Do you allow failure, or the fear of failure, to stop you from taking action?
I was recently challenged in one of the group that I belong to, to do a live Facebook video and in it we had to give three statements – two truths and a lie. One of my statements that I gave was that I had failed my honours degree. Most the people went for that as being the the lie, thinking that there was no way that I could possibly have failed anything in my life.
I found this really interesting – that the perception people have of you, just because you have a qualification, means that you’ve never failed in your life and you haven’t failed towards achieving that qualification. The truth is that I have failed many times in my life, including in my studies but the truth of the matter is also that that has been one of my best teachers. Failing has meant that I have had to look at my life and learn from my experiences.
The first time I failed when I was doing my studies was in my second year at university. I had done very well at school. I was quite academic and I thought I knew everything and I knew how to study. I had done accounting at school, and I should have realised that there was a little bit more to study accounting at University than what I thought when we covered in 3 weeks what we’d spent 4 years studying at school!
I thought I knew everything because I’d already done accounting at school and I thought that that also meant that I actually didn’t have to do any work in any of my other subjects either! I already knew everything.
I failed my second year and it was a big wake up call for me. I had been so over confident in my abilities that I thought I didn’t have to put in any effort. I thought that I could use the same tactics that I’d used at school (which was what a lot of us did) and that was to cram the night before.
With the volume of work we had at school that was possible. It was not possible with the volume of work we had at University. I realised during my holidays, when I was opening up my books to do my studies for the end of the year that, maybe, if I’d actually worked during the year while we were doing the work, maybe it wouldn’t be so overwhelming now and I would have had a bit of a chance.
But you live and you learn from these things
When it came time for me to to do my honours year, I was studying part-time whilst working full time.
My first attempt at it, I failed.
The second year I signed up for it, I was probably about 3 months into the studies when I realised that I was heading the same way that I had the year before, and I had to make the call whether to carry on, or pull the pin.
I chose to deregister from the course.
I was over studying.
The lesson I learnt from that failure was to actually reflect on what has happened and make a decision accordingly. It wasn’t the end of the road for me the fact that I didn’t pass my honours exam and go on to do my CA (Chartered Accountant) exam. It didn’t mean that I would never get to qualify as an accountant.
About 10 years later, before we were going to immigrate to Australia, I converted my South African degree to an Australian degree by doing the required subjects, and when I came to Australia I ended up doing my CPA exam – and that turned out to be a better choice for me!
I was more motivated – I had a lot of other things going on my life at that time as well – but I had a good enough reason to knuckle down and Do The Work.
I was focused.
I was disciplined.
And I was productive with my work – and that makes a massive difference.
To have that internal motivation to get on and do the job is something that just cannot be replaced by anything else.
Life is a classroom.
We are always learning – so long as we are open to the lessons.
Don’t let a little bump in the road put paid your plans to achieving your dream.
There’s always another opportunity for doing things.
Use it to propel you forward in achieving your dreams.
It doesn’t mean that what you want has come to an end. Know that everyone is learning and tweaking things as they go along – and if they’re not doing that, then in reality they are not growing.
They’re staying where they are.
They’re staying safe.
They’re staying comfortable.
Accept your failures. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
Accept what you’ve done and keep moving forward.
Share with us below what you’ve learnt from your failures in life.